One of the biggest obstacles to a teenage girl beginning a modeling career is her parents. If you are under 18, you can’t sign a legal contract, and that includes a model release form. That means you can’t work with a professional photographer and you can’t sign an agency contract either. Never, ever misrepresent yourself as 18 when you are not! Pretending to be an adult can get you into some very serious trouble, not only with the law, but with predatory creeps Until you are 18, one of your parents will have to sign releases and other contracts.
Taking the right approach to talking with your parents about modeling is the key to success. It’s almost always Mom who has the final word on her daughter’s modeling, so focus on Mom. Dad may grumble, but he’ll usually defer to Mom on this one.
First, take a moment to see it from her perspective. Mom is worried. She is concerned about your safety. Her imagination sees her little girl in some creepy guy’s basement, while he encourages you to take your clothes off, or worse, rapes you. In fact, these creepy photographers do exist in every town, so your Mom’s concern is reasonable. To win her approval, you will have to show her that you have thought about this and have ways of dealing with it.
The way to reduce risk is research. Find the photographers in your town who have a good reputation. Talk to agents, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, and so on. They will tell you who you can trust. Then check their Web sites and social media pages to see if they look professional. Avoid photographers who post nude, risqué, or sleazy photos. Mom will freak out when she sees those.
When you have decided on a few photographers to target, call them and ask if they will work with a new model. Don’t expect to be paid for these first few shoots. Your pay will be learning the craft from professional photographers. Don’t worry, very soon you will be booking paid gigs. Find one willing to work with you and help you learn to pose. Let him know you are a minor and will be bringing your Mom. If he has a problem with that, scratch him off the list.
While you’re evaluating photographers, read the book. And don’t read only this one, read others too. Read everything you can find on breaking into modeling. You’ll be amazed how helpful that info will be when you talk to Mom.
Then, when you approach Mom, let her know how badly you want to do this. Explain to her that you have done a lot of reading on how to break into the business and it’s something you feel you are ready for. You are serious about pursuing modeling and are committed to doing what it takes to be successful. Don’t beg or whine; discuss it with her in calm terms and address her concerns using the knowledge you have learned.
Tell her you have done considerable research to find a reputable photographer, and that you would like her to come along, so she can sign the release and make sure it’s a safe environment for you. She will be impressed that you have done your homework, and you will have defused most of her concerns right up front.
In that first shoot, Mom will want to stay. You may not enjoy that, but don’t fight it. Let her be there, but ask her to stay quiet and out of the way during the shoot itself. If she has questions or concerns, she can discuss those with the photographer before the shoot begins.
After you have worked with a photographer a couple times, she may feel comfortable letting you do the shoot alone, though you should always have a cell phone with you. An alternative is to bring a friend, as an escort, to the shoot with you. Mom may be OK with that, once she has developed some trust in the photographer.
Regardless of how well you think you know a photographer, always take precautions and have an escape plan. An escort is always a good idea. Never allow a photographer to talk you into taking off more clothing than was agreed to prior to the shoot, and never feel obligated to do anything a photographer asks. If he begins touching you inappropriately, end the shoot immediately and leave.
As you work with more photographers and develop your portfolio, the time will come to sign with an agent. Again, Mom will be involved, but you need to do the research. See the blog on finding an agent for more info.
When you turn 18, you can work with photographers and sign agency contracts. But you may still want to ask for your parents’ advice, especially if you are still living at home. At 18, the job of keeping you safe transitions completely from Mom to you. Continue to do your research, be very careful, and take appropriate precautions, including escorts.
Mom can be a tremendous source of support and a wonderful advocate for you, both as a minor and as an adult. Invite her to help you shape your modeling career.
Be smart, be safe, and be a great model!